The Pearl

The following is my version of an ancient Christian hymn called by some translators The Pearl and by others The Hymn of Judas Thomas the Apostle (my version is based off translations by G.R.S. Mead and William Wright). It is believed to date back to near the first century AD and therefore represents the earliest Christian doctrines. The hymn is typically rendered as a poem but for my version it is rendered in prose to emphasize the teachings found therein:


When I was a little child I dwelt in the kingdom of my father’s house. I was content there and surrounded with wealth and the luxuries. One day, my parents decided it was time for me to go on a journey. They took from the wealth of their treasury and fitted me with supplies sufficient for my journey, supplies which I could carry. My kit included gold, silver, rubies, agates, and adamant, a substance which can crush iron. Lastly, they took off my fine robes, which they had lovingly made for me, and my royal mantle, which had been custom tailored just for me.

Just as I was about to leave, they made me make a promise with them and told me to write it in my heart, that it might not be forgotten:

“When you go down into Egypt, if you can find the great pearl, which is guarded by a sea serpent, and bring it back here to our kingdom, you will be given back your treasured fine robes and royal mantle. Then you will, with your brother who is next to us in authority, be an heir in our kingdom.”

So I left them there in the East and headed toward Egypt with two of their guards since the path was difficult and I was inexperienced. I passed through the borders of Maishan, the meeting-place of the merchants of the East; I passed through the land of Babel; and I went beyond the walls of Sarbug. Finally I arrived in Egypt, and my companions parted from me, leaving me alone.

I was determined to go straight to the sea serpent and complete my task. I thought the best strategy was to make my home near its lair, wait for it to sleep, and then steal away the pearl. Thus alone, waiting and homesick, a fellow son of the East, a kindred of my former kingdom, happened upon me and we struck a quick friendship and eased each other’s suffering on this quest. He warned me about the Egyptians, and about eating their manner of food. He said this seeing that I was dressed as an Egyptian so that they might not find out I was an outsider who had come from abroad in order to take the pearl. If they found out who I really was, I was afraid they would arouse the serpent against me.

Despite my friend’s warning and my best laid schemes, the Egyptians found out that I was not one of them, and they dealt with me treacherously, and gave me their food to eat.

The effect was that I forgot all: I forgot that I was a son of kings, and I began to serve Pharaoh. I even forgot the pearl, for which my parents had sent me. In this stupor it was as if I fell into a deep sleep, an amnesia of all I once knew.

My parents perceived that I had partaken of Egyptian food and forgotten all, and they were grieved for me. So a proclamation was made in their kingdom, that all the nobles should assemble themselves and counsel together on how to rescue me. They wove a plan on my behalf, that I might not be left in Egypt; and they wrote me a letter signed by every noble:

“From you father, the king of kings, and your mother, the mistress of the East, and from your brother, our second in authority. To you, our son in Egypt: remember, remember that you are a son of kings not a slave of a foreign master—look at whom you are serving! Remember the pearl, for which you were sent to Egypt! Think of your fine robes and remember your royal mantle, which you will one day wear again, when your name will be read out in the list of the valiant. And then—with thy brother, our successor—you will be an heir in our kingdom. Remember!”

This letter was then sealed by the king with his own right hand, to keep it from the wicked ones, the children of Babel, and from the savage demons of Sarbug. The message flew through space and time like a mighty eagle until it arrived at my side and I could hear the words in my heart and mind. It reached me in the night and its message startled me from my sleep. The content of the message seemed so familiar to me, as if its words had once been traced on my heart and committed to my spirit’s memory.

Suddenly I remembered that I was a son of royal parents, and my noble birth asserted itself within my breast like the burning of a fire. Suddenly I remembered the pearl, for which I had been sent to Egypt. I immediately left the company of the Egyptians and went straight to the serpent. With endowed skill I began to charm him; I hushed him asleep and lulled him into slumber using the authority of my father, my brother, and my mother.

I snatched away the pearl, and straightway left to go back to my father’s house.

The filthy and unclean clothing of the Egyptians I stripped off, and left in their country as I ascended straightway closer and closer to the light of my old home in the East. The heavenly letter—the revelation that awakened me—went before me on the road; and just as it had awakened me with its familiar words, so too with its light it was revealing the way home, encouraging me to speed and filling me with feelings of love. I passed by Sarbug; I left Babel on my left hand; and I came to the great Maisan, to the haven of merchants, on the shore of the sea. I then neared the walls of my old kingdom. My parents had sent to the gate my fine robes, which I had not seen since leaving home, and the royal mantle that was wrapped with it, to await me by the hand of their treasures, their trusted messengers.

At first I could not recognize what they were or what they meant—for when I had left my father’s home I was merely a child—but all of a sudden, when I received them, these garments seemed like a mirror that allowed me to see myself as I really was. I could see and remember everything—the robes and mantle had been mine all along and the person I was before I set them down remained who I was in the inside. As the final illusions of Egypt fell from my eyes, I became of one heart and one mind with my true self. And the messengers too, who brought them to me, they, despite being two separate individuals, were both set apart by our one king and were one in heart and one in mind with me. They were they who were trusted to deliver the riches of my fine robes, which were adorned with glorious colors, with gold and beryl and rubies and agates and sardonyxes of every color.

Its glory and beauty I cannot begin to describe! It was skillfully worked in its home on high; its seams were fastened with diamond clasps; the image of the king of kings was embroidered and depicted in full upon it; and, like the stone of the sapphire, its hues were varied. It was seemingly inlaid with light and truth in its fibers, so that I as I saw it intelligence began to pour into my mind as if it spoke. As a whisper it entered my heart:

“Well done, thou good and faithful servant! You were raised by your father to become yourself a father, and you have brought forth fruits meet for this heirship.”

It seemed to beckon my soul to take possession of it, as if it might leap out of the hands of the messengers that I might take it more quickly. A love urged me to run to meet it and receive it; and I stretched forth and took it. And with the beauty of its colors I adorned myself, and I wrapped myself wholly in my mantle of brilliant hues.

After I clothed myself with it, I went up to the gate of the king’s hall. There I bowed my head and worshipped the majesty of my father who sent me—for I had done his commandments, and he too had done what he promised—when suddenly a throng of princes and nobles came and lifted me up from the ground and embraced me with many tears. Together we sang a song of praise for our king.

Then my brother, the successor of my father and mother, came and smiled upon me, taking by the hand to the throne of our king. He insisted that with him I should worthily go up to the king of kings, and with my offering and my pearl we should together present ourselves to him.

The Hymn of Judas Thomas the Apostles, which he spake in prison, is ended.

Categories: Tags: , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s